Friday, I had been looking forward to today. I had a full day in the office all by myself. County Fair contests start on Sunday, and I had a laundry list of have-to’s and want-to’s get ready for my two county fairs. Now I can laugh, only 3 things got done on my list. I had some great visits from 4-H leaders, members, and volunteers. I felt honored to be a part of their plans and accomplishments, even if it meant tasks not getting crossed off my to-do list.
I also had the tough stuff today that comes before the county fair. People who missed deadlines, parents worried about their kids meeting qualifications to compete, and conflict that comes with any type of competition. As I worked through the tough stuff, I got a request from a colleague to share a Facebook video. With a scowl on my face, I got ready to scroll through FB posts and find the missing video. But what popped up stopped me in my tracks.
There was Brandon. My niece posted a picture of her brother who would have been 35 years old today. It is Brandon’s birthday, July 12. I had not written the date today, and spent way too many nights in meetings this week to think about the date. Today is July 12, the day Brandon came into the world, a date that forever changed my life. July 12 is the date I became an aunt. In Brandon’s short 20 years on this Earth before ‘going home’, he taught me so much. He taught me to love in a way I had never experienced love before. I remember babysitting him one day, he was taking a nap in my room. In my teenage brain, I wasn’t thinking and jumped on my bike to run to the store. About 2 blocks away, it occurred to me I had left Brandon at home napping. I felt like my bike was an airplane under me as I flew back to the house, and ran into the bedroom. There the precious baby was sleeping just as I had left him. That pit in my stomach that I had failed him, that fierce burning in my heart that I must always protect him, was a love seared on my heart from that day forward.
Brandon taught me many more lessons. He taught me to live a full day every day. To let people grow up and change, and not hold them to the person they were as a kid. To be present to show love. To give time. To hug like you mean it. To sing, really sing with your heart. To find fun in the mundane. To forgive and move on. Brandon was so amazing to Katie. He wrote her letters while serving in the Marine Corps stationed in the middle east. When he got home from Iraq, he made the 2 hour trip to the county fair and surprised her at her 4-H chicken show. That day was so special, and we didn’t even know we only had a short-time left with Brandon before a vehicle accident would take his earthly life.
So Today….there I was opening Facebook and greeted by Brandon’s amazing eyes. It put tears in my eyes before a smile on my face. That smile, that look, transported me from my earthly struggles. I was transported to a love I miss so much in my life. That moment put many things into perspective, and of all the struggles I faced today, how none of them mattered in the large scheme of life. It reminded me of how short this life truly is.
So Tonight …I walked outside to listen to the cicadas sing their summer ballads, lightning bugs perform their dance, and see the signs Brandon had sent. I assumed there would be a new rose blooming, and there it was. Only one rose on the little bush by the patio. You see, the day Brandon passed away, Scott woke me up to share the heart-wrenching news in the wee hours of the morning. After I gathered my wits, I walked out to the car to get my phone. As the sun dawned to bring us morning, a rose literally bloomed and opened in front of my eyes. I paused and acknowledged Brandon’s heavenly presence with me. In God’s promise and in Brandon’s love, I was sent a rose again tonight. I had seen the tight bud yesterday when I ate lunch on the patio. Tonight a single yellow rose bud greeted me as I stepped out on the patio to ‘live, laugh, love’ and reflect on life. To enjoy this very moment, it is the only moment we are promised.
And once again, I had a plan to author my own day, my own July 12, but HE reminded me that HE is truly the author no matter my to-do list. HE reminded me to look back at the lessons Brandon taught me, … to live, to laugh, to appreciate what I have, to stop and enjoy the roses! A Gift from Heaven.